Boris Johnson threatens election if members of Parliament act to prevent no-deal Brexit

MPs drafted a bill that would force Johnson to request an extension to Brexit negotiations if a deal is not reached

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published September 3, 2019 9:50AM (EDT)

 (DonkeyHotey / WhoWhatWhy (CC BY-SA 2.0))
(DonkeyHotey / WhoWhatWhy (CC BY-SA 2.0))

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has threatened members of Parliament with a potential election should they move to pass a bill forcing his government to ask European Union leaders for an extension if he is unable to strike a Brexit deal.

"Five weeks ago, I spoke to you from these steps and said that this government was not going to hang around and that we would not wait until Brexit Day, Oct. 31, to deliver on the priorities of the British people," Johnson said in a statement from Downing Street on Monday.

After reviewing his administration's policies on crime, education, finances and health care, he broached the subject of Brexit and the possibility of the U.K. leaving the EU without a deal.

"As we come to that Brexit deadline, I am encouraged by the progress we are making," Johnson told reporters. "In the last few weeks ,the chances of a deal have been rising, I believe, for three reasons: They can see that we want a deal, they can see that we have a clear vision for our future relationship with the EU (something that has not always perhaps been the case) and they can see that we are utterly determined to strengthen our position by getting ready to come out regardless, come what may. But if there is one that can hold us back in these talks, it is the sense in Brussels that MPs may find some way to cancel the referendum or that tomorrow MPs will vote with Jeremy Corbyn for yet another pointless delay."

He added, "I don't think they will. I hope that they won't. But if they do, they will plainly chop the legs out from under the U.K. position and make any further negotiation absolutely impossible. And so I say, to show our friends in Brussels that we are united in our purpose, MPs should vote with the government against Corbyn's pointless delay. I want everybody to know there are no circumstances in which I will ask Brussels to delay. We are leaving on the 31st of October, no ifs or buts. We will not accept any attempt to go back on our promises or scrub that referendum."

Johnson's statement was issued in response to a draft bill being published by a cross-party group of MPs, which includes members of Johnson's own Conservative Party, that would force the prime minister to request a three-month extension to Brexit negotiations if a deal is not reached by the European Council summit in October, according to Politico. After Johnson's statement, a senior government official warned that an early general election could be called if the motion was successful.

"If they vote tomorrow to wreck the negotiating process, to go against giving Britain the ability to negotiate a deal, they will also have to reflect on what comes next," the official stated.

Last week, after Queen Elizabeth II granted Johnson's request to lengthen Parliament's suspension in order to force its hand on Brexit, former editor-in-chief of Human Events and Breitbart News London Raheem Kassam applauded Johnson's decision.

"Her majesty the queen is exercising her responsibility as constitutional arbiter after three years of a deadlocked parliament, whose only aim seems to have been to thwart the expressed democratic will of the British people as expressed on June 23, 2016. This is by no means the end of the discussion, with Speaker Bercow clearly intending to fight back. But it does represent a giant leap in the direction of a hard Brexit. Britain is probably now in its last few months of membership of the European Union," Kassam told Salon by email.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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